Friday, June 3, 2016

Off the Cuff

I have no idea what I'm watching right now. It's some mid-day show called 'FabLife'. The studio audience is mostly female and it looks like they are cheering for some new type of blender. At the bottom of the screen, though, I see a Twitter hashtag: #offthecuff. I decided I would use that as the title for this post for a couple of reasons.

First, I'd been watching clips from Orange Is the New Black and feeling nervous about the disproportionate number of LGBTQ people portrayed as being prison inmates. Second, I just wiped out the first three posts I ever put on this blog because they seemed to express a lot of anger. I worry about how oppression and anger tie in to each other and, in some cases, do lead to LGBT people ending up in prison. I don't want to go there, so I'm taking off the cuffs and writing an off-the-cuff post.

As we go through what is admittedly a crazy election cycle, with trans rights and trans issues in the public spotlight more than ever, I have started thinking again of Martin Luther King Jr's nonviolent resistance approach to social change. At the heart of that approach, it seems that the key is in exposing your opponent's dark side. If I sit peacefully to make my point and you, as the opponent, come over and start physically hurting me, you make yourself look bad and, in so doing, undermine your own argument - especially if the basis of your argument originates from some fantasy of superiority.  You can't claim to be reasonable, kind and loving, for example, while also beating another human being half to death. The rest of the thinking public sees this and says "I don't care if I was on the fence about this before, we're all human and that behavior is not right."

It seems like we are slowly but surely making progress on trans rights issues. The only thing that worries me is how much more vocal and threatening the opposition has become. People will say and do things so egregious that there almost isn't words for the behavior, and I get the feeling that they do this to see if we will react in kind and do something violent in response.

Personally, I don't intend to let them win. Instead, I hope I can change some people's minds by setting an example. If you can find a person open-minded enough to listen to your story, you might be able to chill their hate speech by rendering them speechless. I think that approach is probably what is going to change a lot of people's minds. Until then, it is going to feel a lot like arguing with an artificial intelligence or a scene from Idiocracy. "Why does Brawndo have what plants crave? Because Brawndo has electrolytes, and that's what plants crave."   Stay strong and good luck!